4 replies on “Second amendment commas.”

  1. The comma thing is interesting. But I’ve often thought that any questions about intent with regard to whether the Amendment guarantees rights to individuals or states is made pretty clear by the fact that the framers used the term ‘the people.’

    If we are to accept this argument by anti-gun advocates that the 2nd Amendment’s reference to ‘the people’ actually means ‘the states’, this actually has some pretty scary consequences. Because when the same founding fathers wrote the 1st Amendment, that would suggest that only the states have “the right peaceably to assemble” and not individual human beings per se. As for the 4th Amendment, only states would then be protected from unreasonably search and seizure. Etc.

    Kind of a crock o’ the shit, eh?

    I do realize that there is over 200 years of extensive and convoluted case law regarding these other amendments that allows lawyerly explanations of how a court’s theoretical ruling that ‘people’ means ‘state’ in the 2nd Amendment (which has only ever been the subject of a single SCOTUS ruling) would probably not affect legal interpretations of the other amendments. However, in the interest of actually understanding what rights the 2nd Amendment actually establishes through it’s language, common sense says that we should look at the meaning of the words ‘the people’ in the context of of the Bill of Rights as a whole. And it’s pretty damned plain that ‘people’ means ‘people’ and ‘state’ means ‘state.’ Statements to the contrary are at best disingenuous coming from those who would also like to claim that we are each entitled to the protections of the 1st and 4th Amendments as individuals.

  2. this argument by anti-gun advocates that the 2nd Amendment’s reference to ‘the people’ actually means ‘the states’

    This seems a pretty weak argument to make, considering that the 10th Amendment makes a distinction between “the States” and “the people.”

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Besides that, the fact that the founders split the Congress into two branches — one to represent the people, and one to represent the states — it is ridiculous to assume that they are one and the same.

    If they meant States, they wouldn’t have said people. This is the most fundamental premise of statutory interpretation. Words mean what they say.

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